November 2011

IZA DP No. 6135: Reforms, Growth and Persistence of Gender Gap: Recent Evidence from Private School Enrolment in India

revised version forthcoming as 'Economic Reforms and Growth of Private School Enrolment in India: Is There a Cause for Concern?' in: Sonalde Desai, Pallavi Choudhuri, and Amaresh Dubey (eds.), India's Social and Economic Transformation in the 21st Century, Routledge

This paper examines the extent of gender gap in private school enrolment in India, an issue that has not been adequately addressed previously. Results based on individual level unit record data shows that a girl is less likely to be sent to private schools holding other factors constant and controlling for selection into school enrollment, and this disadvantage is particularly higher for younger girls in the family. The extent of gender bias in private school enrolment is double that of overall enrollment. Additionally, irrespective of policy reforms and overall economic growth, female disadvantage in rural private school enrolment appears to have increased over the decade 1993-94 to 2004-05. This can partly be attributed to the declining agricultural output as well as labour force participation rates among rural women over much of this period. Our results have important policy implications at a time when policy makers are eager to explore a potential role for private sector in delivering basic education.